FACE OFF: New York Times style reporter Alex Kuczynski has never been known for being tight-lipped. She bragged about her husband’s physique as he emerged naked from a hot tub in the September 2005 issue of W. She wrote about tearing out her own hair in a piece about trichotillomania in the May 2002 issue of Allure. “When I was at the New York Observer, I wrote about high colonics, my own high colonics,” Kuczynski told WWD Monday. “I’ve often considered myself to be a method journalist, like a method actor.”

So perhaps it’s not surprising that she spent over 30 pages of her new book, “Beauty Junkies,” due out in October, talking about her own adventures under the scalpel of plastic surgeon Michelle Copeland, whom Kuczynski began seeing when she was just 28.

Her visits started innocently enough with enhanced dermatology, but quickly descended into serious nip/tuck territory. In no particular order, Kuczynski has had an eye lift; injections of collagen “derived from cadavers” and “fetal foreskin cells”; treatments with Juvederm, “a form of hyaluronic acid available in Europe,” which Kuczynski paid a friend to smuggle into the country; Botox “at least twice a year”; a Restylane lip plump that went so horribly wrong it prevented her from attending a post-funeral dinner for her friend Jerry Nachman, an executive at MSNBC, and liposuction, which her stepson’s eight- or nine-year-old friend recognized immediately on a sunbathing Kuczynski. “Did you have fat cut off your butt?” he asked.

But the self-described plastic surgery addict now claims to have kicked the habit. “I’ve gone cold turkey,” she said. “I’ve been off the Botox for a year. I actually have wrinkles.” Kuczynski won’t rule out having more work done in the future, though she said, “I don’t think I’ll do anything to my face.”

Focusing on her own beautification obsession and recovery had its advantages for the author, particularly since other people didn’t want to see their own plastic surgery dissected in print.

Peggy Siegal, a New York publicist and friend of Kuczynski’s, was irked to discover that her own augmentation was laid bare on page one of chapter one in an early galley of “Beauty Junkies,” which was sent out to women’s magazine editors last month.

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I’m very honest and open about beauty treatments,” Siegal said Monday. “I don’t want to put her down, but how can I say this? I think that because I’m open about it, she assumed there were no boundaries, and it was a misjudgment. Did I want to kill her? Yes. But I controlled myself.”

After seeing the manuscript, Siegal made her case to the author. She said that although she didn’t mind certain facts being revealed — she did, after all, allow Kuczynski to shadow her on a visit to doctor Pat Wexler — she felt that the level of detail in the book was invasive.

So, “out of friendship for Peggy, I made a few minor changes,” Kuczynski said. Suffice it to say, Siegal is no longer in the introduction and will not likely be appearing in a Vanity Fair excerpt of the book coming in September.
Jacob Bernstein and Sara James

VILLAGE CHOICE: Before Debi Fine accepted the job as head of NBC Universal’s iVillage Internet group, NBC evidently tried to hire her former boss, Mary Berner. Berner, whom Fine reported to at Glamour years ago, was said to have been in talks with NBC for several months about the job, but sources close to the former Fairchild Publications chief executive officer said she was more interested in a position that offered her “equity.”

Fine became publisher of Glamour in 1999 when Berner left to run Fairchild, a division that was absorbed by Condé Nast Publications, parent of WWD, over the past year. Fine also previously was publisher of Brides and held executive positions at Avon and Pink, the Victoria’s Secret line owned by Limited Brands Inc.

SUMMER DOUBLE FEATURE: Clearly, it’s hard to dig up good gossip during the summer months — which, perhaps, explains why two competing New York gossip columns printed not one but two nearly identical items over the weekend.

From Saturday’s Gatecrasher column in the New York Daily News: “It may seem like James Marsden is in every comic-book film this summer, but that doesn’t help him jump the ticket line. Marsden tried to see the IMAX 3-D version of the Kryptonian caper in Lincoln Square Monday…[but was] told it was sold out….Says the source: ‘The manager recognized him immediately and escorted him to the back of the theater, where he watched the remainder of the showing already under way.'”

From Sunday’s Page Six, which closes and goes to print on Friday: “James Marsden didn’t realize he needed to buy tickets in advance to see himself in ‘Superman Returns.’ When the ticket-counter girl informed him he was out of luck, [Marsden yelled,] ‘But I’m in the movie!’ A manager escorted him inside, where the star stood in the back and watched the rest of a showing already under way.”

From Saturday’s Gatecrasher sightings: “Former ‘Will and Grace’ star Eric McCormack browsed the West Village Housing Works thrift store Wednesday with his wife, Janet, and son, Finn.” From Sunday’s Page Six sightings: “Eric McCormack, the former ‘Will & Grace’ star, browsing the aisles of the Housing Works Thrift Shop in the Village.”

Incidentally, WWD would like to thank two pitch-happy publicists who inadvertently provided fodder for a third item this week.

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